Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Remember now, "Stupid is as stupid does."

I look just like my dad.  That's scary, creepy and wicked right there.



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gallows Hill and Andersonville

Last week was a doozy.  It wasn't all that bad – meaning not much happened that was "bad" – but boy was it disappointing.  Let's document the disappointments, shall we?  I mean, mostly I plan to document them and then tell you about a song called It Could Be Worse by They Might Be Giants and Sarah Vowell. This little ditty reminds us that, whatever it is we're going through, it isn't all that bad when you compare it to Gallows Hill and Andersonville.

The disappointments started on Monday.  It was the very first day of my 12-week Houston training.  This day included a 9-10 mile run with 8 to 10 strides of 30 seconds with a one-minute recovery jog in between.  Nothing major.  Just something to get the body turning over.  It was a cold, dark morning.  One without a moon.  One without street lights.  Prolly crawling with vampires.  I was running along and fell off a six-inch ledge at the side of the road.  Took a nasty little spill.

Here's the cool part about this spill:  After 15 years and who knows how many sprained ankles, whenever I trip or begin to roll an ankle, my knees do this buckle-thing, and I go down.  This has saved an ankle or two on many occasions.  I don't know how it happens, but it happens.  Automagically.

Here's the not-so cool about this spill: The knees buckled and I was headed for a face plant.  At the last minute I did a tuck 'n roll kind of thing, and somehow thwacked the tailbone.  Hard.  I jumped up and hollered "I'm okay! I'm okay!" Mostly to convince myself that I'd be fine.

While I thwacked the tailbone, I really thought I was okay.  I was able to finish the strides and the remainder of the run.  About two hours later, however, I was sure I broke it.  Or something.  It hurt to walk and it screamed at me violently when I walked up stairs.

Oh my finger, oh my thumb,
Oh my belly, oh my bum!

(I'm happy to report that after several doses of ibuprofen, a couple days rest, and sitting on an ice pack, the tailbone is back to normal.  No pain!)

The next disappointment has to do with Halloween.  I enjoy a good Halloween celebration.  Extra especially if the celebration involves the wearing of costumes.  Spouse and I have had a "crunch mode" week with both of our jobs.  We rarely have our crunch modes at the same time, but when we do, it's intense.  Spouse and I are working a bunch, every spare minute, in fact.

On Wednesday, there was a costume party for kids and adults.  A Costume party?  Oh please!  Please, yes!  I had a pretty serious deadline on Friday.  If I was going to take a few hours to party a la masquerade, then I'm most definitely be up half the night working.  But it would be worth it.  Any costume party is worth working all night.  And so it was, that I worked my guts out in the morning, worked my guts out through the day, ran around to fetch ingredients for a dish to take, and finally made time to put on my costume.  I arrived at the party, only to discover that adults weren't wearing costumes.  Boo.  I went home to sit on an ice pack and finish my work.  (Remember?  I still had a sore butt.)

The third disappointment came in the form of the biggest cluster I've witnessed in the running world –  the Provo Halloween Half Marathon.  My friends and I had registered for this race several months ago.  We started working on our costumes several months ago.  Tina was coming to stay.  We have been looking forward to this race since several months ago.

Long story, short, the race organizers changed their software last minute and lost anyone who registered before October 1.  That would be us.  Hillene had gone to pick up her number and found that people were waiting in line up to two hours, then told to come back later because their number wasn't ready.

Luckily, I had received word of the mess before driving down.  Luckily.  Others weren't so lucky.  Many drove an hour or two, only to discover that they'd be turned away empty handed.  I planned on finishing this race in an hour and half.  I will not, refuse to, wait in line longer than it takes to run.  Therefore, I bagged the race, expecting that if the bib numbers weren't ready, nothing else would be ready either.

Saturday morning, I slept in with the Yahoos.  We read about Abraham Lincoln, made banana-blueberry bread, and watched a few episodes of the Munsters.  Then we took a nap.  Then I ran 14 miles while listening to The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell.  Sarah told me about how she uses things like Gallows Hill and Andersonville to remind her that whatever she's going through isn't so bad.

She's right you know.  Nothing could be worse than Gallows Hill and Andersonville.

They Might Be Giants recorded a song called It Could Be Worse that was fashioned along Miss Vowell's Gallows Hill and Andersonville comparison.  I cannot find the audio anywhere, but here are the lyrics:

It's raining so hard
And the cabs, they won't stop
But compare and contrast for one moment
to the Montgomery bus boycott

Gallows Hill and Andersonville
It could be, it could be worse
Gallows Hill and Andersonville
It could be, it could be worse

You're hosting a party
And you ran out of beers
And your guests, they left early, now, didn't they, but
That's no Trail of Tears

Gallows Hill and Andersonville
It could be, it could be worse
Gallows Hill and Andersonville
It could be, it could be worse

Assassination Vacation

Assassination Vacation
by Sarah Vowell


Sarah Vowell is terrific.  She's a history buff with a strict reverence for historical plaques of any kind.  To her, a plaque says, "Something happened!" (page159.)  She gets excited about something happening anywhere.

Sarah Vowell enjoys – like Disneyland enjoys – visiting the sites of history.  So much so, that she generally patterns her vacations around the landmarks of historical events.  United States presidents are of particular interest to Miss Vowell and many have been assassinated.  That's why she chose a year or so to visit the sites and relics of the presidential assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and William McKinley.

The Assassination Vacation with Abraham Lincoln included a trip to the theater in which he was shot and various museums that house relics.  One such relic was the bullet that John Wilkes Booth used.  Vowell also followed Booth's escape route that ended in his ultimate shooting and capture.  Samuel Mudd, the doctor who assisted Booth was sent to prison at Fort Jefferson, on the island of Dry Tortugas (near the Florida Keys.)  Sarah made sure to visit that site too.

Sarah Vowell's Garfield Assassination Vacation was perhaps the most eye-opening for me.  As you might recall from your history lessons of 5th grade, Garfield was elected during the most serious of partisan turmoil – partisan turmoil brought afloat by the abolition of slavery.

After the Civil War, it was assumed mostly that Republicans were against slavery while Democrats were for it.  Nothing like picking your team over one issue, right?  (Think about the issue in which you pick your team now... not as clear.)  Republicans were united in their fight against the evil of slavery.  Once slavery was abolished, however, the party began to see their differences.  That's what happened to the Republican party after slavery was no longer legal; without "slavery" to agree upon, the many differences in the party's politics began to boil.

When James A. Garfield received the Republican presidential nomination, there was a great deal of tumultuous disagreement among the party.  US Grant, James G. Blaine, and John Sherman were all running.  Due to radical views on all, Garfield received the Republication nomination as a compromise.  This was a controversial event.  One that would ultimately lead to his assassination by Charles J. Guiteau after Garfield's three short months in office.  There was a political scandal that involved the U.S. Customs house, and the revenue therein, but that is entirely too involved to bring up here.  (Hint: Read the book!)

Garfield was shot on July 2nd, 1881 at a Baltimore train station just as Garfield was leaving for vacation.  He didn't pass, however, until September 19th.  After the shooting, Garfield was expected to live.  It appears as though an attending physician threw sanitation to the wind, then proceeded to dig around in the wound for the bullet with his bare and unclean hands.  There are theories that the infection from said digging around was what killed him, not the actual bullet.

Garfield's vice president, Chester Arthur became president after the assassination.  This was indeed a bad time for Arthur because the assassin, Mr. Guiteau, claimed he offed the president for Arthur's benefit.  Mr. Arthur was relieved of any fault during a spectacled farce of a trial where Guiteau chose to defend himself.

Sarah's final chapter of the Assassination Vacation, was the assassination of William McKinley.  In 1901, President McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz during a meet, greet, and handshake session at the Pan-American Exposition.  Apparently, McKinley was standing in a reception line of some kind.  And apparently, Czolgosz shook McKinley's hand then shot him.

If you'll recall, again from 5th grade, the Pan-American Expo was a Buffalo, New York-based gathering that was used to promote some trade and whatnot between Canada, the United States, and Latin American.  This feat of public relations was issued in response to the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Vowell visited McKinley's grave, his presidential library, the site of the shooting and other such locations that relate.  Leon Czolgosz, a believer in the anarchist movement, was found guilty and executed with three jolts of 1800 volts in Auburn Prison.  Vowell visited that too.

Interestingly enough Robert Todd Lincoln was within the vicinity of all three assassinations.  Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, was with his father the night he was shot.  During Garfield's presidnecy, Robert Todd Lincoln was secretary of war and was with Garfield when he was shot.  Finally, Mr. Lincoln, feeling cursed, was at the Pan-Am expo when McKinley was assassinated.  The three events led Mr. Lincoln to stay clear of activities that involved any president.  This is called the  curse of Robert Todd Lincoln.

There you go.  The assassination vacations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, through the eyes of one Sarah Vowell.  One might think her interest in presidential assassinations morbid, but Vowell's interest in such stems from a deep love of history, and an unequivocally intense respect for America.  Few are as patriotic.

With that, I leave you with a quote from page 211:
"There is one thing that assassinated Americans have in common.  Fate seems to grant each man one last good day, some moment of grace and whimsy before he bleeds. (Except, surprisingly, the notoriously good-time JFK, Dallas offering little by way of whimsy.)  Lincoln, of course, was giggling at the moment of impact;  Booth, knowing the play Lincoln was watching by heart, chose a laugh line on purpose to dampen the noise of his derringer's report.  Garfield was jauntily leaving on vacation.  Before Robert Kennedy went to the Ambassador Hotel, he spent his last day at the beach with his wife and children at the Malibu home of John Frankenheimer, director of The Manchurian Candidate.  My favorite, though is Martin Luther King Jr., who had a pillow fight with his brother and his friends at the Lorraine Motel. I very much enjoy picturing that, and when I do, I see it in slow motion, in black and white.  A room full of men in neckties horse around laughing, bonking heads, feathers floating in the air.  For William McKinley, it was a day trip to Niagara Falls."

Next Up: The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So You Think You Can Cyclocross (SYTYCC)

There's this sport called cyclocross. Heard of it?  No?  Lemme essplain.  Cyclocross is a cycling activity whereby athletes of considerable coordination ride a roadish-type bike with beefy tires through a muck 'n mire obstacle course.  Muck 'n mire is anything from grass, to mud or dirt, concrete, and even ballpits.  A cyclocross course is a loop of varying lengths and features that is ridden again-and-again by race participants for a designated length of time.  Like, say, 50 minutes (plus some laps.)  Basically, the Bloke (er Sheila) with the most laps in the designated time wins.

Last Friday, SkiBikeJunkie produced a tweet about racing the Clammy Cross that evening.  Me, being schooled in clams, and all things clammy, knew right away that this Clammy Cross was a half-mile from my house.

(As an aside, don't you hafta be careful with clam jokes?  Sure do.  And fer reals I've been clam digging.  It's a gas.)

Junkie informed us that the race started at 9:30pm.  Spouse, Yahoos, and I decided to show up and watch.  And watch we did.  I've watched a cyclocross race before, but I don't remember paying attention to the dismount performance that precedes the obstacles.

This time, at the Clammy Cross, I paid attention to the dismounts.  Mostly because one of the obstacles was a 12-foot pile of asphalt.  (Holy barrier Batman!)  I watched 'em dismount and carry their bikes up that 12-foot pile of asphalt for a bit, then wandered over to some of the other obstacles to watch more dismounting.

(We also met Mr. StupidBike in person.  That was super, duper, fun.  Or like he said: awkward.)

I've used two words in this post that I'd like to draw attention to at this time.  They are: performance and coordination.  (Italics added for emphasis.)  Cyclocross is a coordination performance.  (More italics added for emphasis.) Only the coordinated can participate, only those with acute eye-foot-cleat symbiosis can play, only those who have mastered the unclip-sissor combo can transact.  Hell, you might as well throw in some jazz hands with a cross-body chassé and a samba.

Where do these guys come from?!  The whole pack was doing some fancy stuff.

During this bedazling display of finesse, it dawned on me that the cyclocross world must be full of washed-up ballroom dancers.  Oh the coordination!  The hip motion! The footwork!  The backleading!  The body (bike) support! The center point of balance!  The heel turns!  The lead stealing! (Also called hijacking in the ballroom world, but, like hijack has nothing but negative energy these days.  Stealing on the other hand has some positive energy.  Grin.)

Cyclocross is coordination. (And some other random, unrelated stuff like endurance, and strength, and lactic threshold, and high VO2 max.)  Remember how I said I'm schooled in all things clam?  Well, I'm not schooled in any things ballroom dance or any things that requires coordination.  Walk and chew gum?  Nada.  Walk.  Then chew the gum.  It is in my best interest to stay out of the cyclocross world.

However.  How... ever... it would be quite entertaining to teach a nut-job clod (er clam) like myself to ride cross.  Then it hit me.  My million dollar idea. We should do a reality show where you take a nobody who cannot cyclocross and turn them into cyclocrossers.  Just like that one ballroom dance show.

We'd call it So You Think You Can Cyclocross.

What'ya think?  A winner?  Below, please find some youtube video I found that demonstrates a proper (I guess it's proper; says so in the title) dismount and remount.  Enjoy.  You can get the gist in only a minute.

P.S.  Dearest cyclocross crowd, please don't hate me for comparing your beloved sport to ballroom dance.  It's meant to be a compliment.  Of sorts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Brothers Grimm - Tuesday Tune, vol 99


The Brothers Grimm.  I love this movie.  It's a terrific flick.  It's also a great movie to watch at Halloween time.  How do I love thee, Brothers Grimm?  Let me count the ways.

1.  The Setting.  The Brothers Grimm is based in Germany, me thinks, during a stint of French occupation, also, me thinks.  I'm a sucker for anything French and 18th century, which includes anything of historical anything, and 18th century French costuming.  One day I'll tell you about my love for French Historical Fiction.  One day.

2.  The Characters.  While the happenings of this Brothers Grimm tale are fictional, the storyline was inspired by true characters Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.  Those two are ridiculously fascinating.  Jacob and Wilhelm, lawyers both, had an intense interest in language.  Specifically they studied philogy – which, according to wiki, is the the study of how "sounds in words shift over time" and combines linguistics with literature and history.  See?  Ridiculously fascinating.

If that doesn't blow the top of your house made of straw, then get this: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm began the first German dictionary.  They had completed letters "A," "B," "C," and "E" when Wilhelm passed (1859) and Jacob, set to finish as much as possible, was smack-dab in the middle of F when he passed (1863.)  Apparently Jacob had just documented the definition for fruit.  Or frucht as the Germs say.  (I'm still confused as to why they skipped "D" and moved on to "E."  German words don't begin with "D," maybe?  Anyone out there speak German?)

The Grimm Brothers, perhaps, are best known for their collection of folklore.  The two made a life-long quest to interview various peasants, middle-classers, 'n aristocrats, so as to document the stories passed from generation to generation.  Many of the fairy tales we know are based on the documentation of folklore collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

3.  The Lighting.  This movie has the warmest glow of any dark flick I've ever witnessed.  The lighting is beautiful.  Many of the stories collected by the Grimm brothers are dark and violent.  The movie – or lighting guy, whatever – was/were able to capture the dark and violent essence of the fables while  maintaining a cartoony-artsy glow.  I watch this movie for the lighting alone.  If you're not sure what I mean, I suggest you check it out and look only at the lighting.  Prepare. To. Be. Amazed. Or something. (Perhaps I'll come across some time to find an image that demonstrates this.)

4.  Heath Ledger.  Sadness.

5.  It's Scary!  And Suspenseful!  But not over-the-top-pee-yer-pants-can't-sleep-for-weeks scary and suspenseful.  The Yahoos refuse to watch it again, however.  That part where the gingerbread man steels Sasha's eyes and mouth sent the Yahoos away for good.  They will have none of this Brothers Grimm action.  Once upon a time, around 15 years ago, I was into horror flicks.  I mean, into.  Loved them.  Loved the rush.  Loved the special effects.  Loved the gore.  Loved to scream.  That little love affair was tempered by a three-year stint of living alone.  Nothing sours a lover of horror flicks like living alone.

6.  The clever collage of fairy tales.  Somehow, the writers of The Brothers Grimm were able to take some treasured stories – Jack and the Beanstock, The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The Gingerbread Man, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty – then massage each into a well-collected capsule of a story.  It's very clever.  I like clever.

I love this movie.  That's why today's Tuesday Tunes are about The Brothers Grimm, and specifically, about the folklore presented in The Brothers Grimm.  (Without links again... if I have some time – har har – I'll add them later.  Maybe I'll watch the movie AGAIN! while doing some copy 'n paste with links.)

Jack and the Beanstock
Sunbeams and Some Beans - Kimya Dawson
Happy Jack - The Who
Trigger Happy Jack (Drive By a Go-Go) - Poe
Stealing The Stock (Into] Le Renard De Nuit - David Holmes

The Frog Prince
Return of the Frog Queen - Jeremy Enigk
Kiss that Frog - Peter Gabriel
A Sorta Fairytale - Tori Amos
Kiss Me - Sixpence None the Richer
Kissed It (feat. Velvet Revolver) - Macy Gray

Rapunzel - Dave Matthews Band
Sister Golden Hair - America
Hair - Lady Gaga
Don't Cut Your Hair - The Pretenders
Hair of the Dog - Nazareth

Little Red Riding Hood
Grandma's Theme - John Mellencamp
The Little Red Rooster - Willie Dixon & Howlin' Wolf
Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran
Crooked Teeth - Death Cab for Cutie
Your Red Dress (Wedding Song at Cemetery) - Alaska In Winter
Red Right Hand - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Mothers of the Disapearred - U2
Code Red - Tori Amos

Snow White
White Snow - Ben Weaver
Mirror Mirror - Diane Birch
I Wish - Stevie Wonder
Hunter - Dido
Stand and Deliver - Sugar Ray
Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour) - Dollar
Mirror in the Bathroom - The English Beat
One Bad Apple - The Osmonds
One Magic Kiss - Brandi Carlile

Gingerbread Man
Martha's Foolish Ginger - Tori Amos
Hot Cookin' - G. Love & Special Sauce
Run On - Moby
Catch Me if You Can - Outasight

Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel - Humperdink
You Want the Candy - The Raveonettes
Candyman - Spacehog
Candylane (Bibio Remix) - Gonjusufi
Woods - The Rosebuds
The Cutter - Echo & The Bunnymen
Crumbs From Your Table - U2
Burn the Witch - Queens of the Stone Age

Cinderella Man - Eminem
Cinderella - Langhorne Slim
Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves - Eurythmics
Hit the Floor - Linkin Park
Marlene and her Sisters - Joe Firstman
Velvet Slipper - The Lem Arcon Sound
Working (wo) Man - Rush
Ball of Confusion -  Love and Rockets
One Night, One Kiss - The Russian Futurists

Sleeping Beauty
She's A Beauty - The Tubes
I'm Only Sleeping - The Vines
Sleep - The Dandy Warhols
Kiss Them For Me - Siouxie & The Banshees
Had a Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy) - Roger Hodgson
Kiss - Tom Jones

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Olympic Hopeful: Ryan Hall


Say Hall-ellujah! because today's Olympic Hopeful is the one, the only, the humble, the giving, the spiritual, the blonde-haired, bright-eyed, 29-year-old Ryan Hall.

Have you ever in your life spent some time watching famed greatness?  I have.  Twice.  And, to be clear, this is famed greatness; the greatness from famous people that you don't know.  I know plenty of great people, but that's the thing – I know them personally, and therefore have received and witnessed proof that they're great.

Sometimes, again, twice to be exact, you'll observe a famous someone.  And sometimes, as is the case with Ryan Hall, you'll see the oozing of "spectacular human being." This happened last November.  Ryan Hall was at the New York City Marathon expo signing posters.  (If you'll recall, I was able to get in on that NYC Marathon action.)  I didn't get a signed poster, but I watched this gentle, running giant for a good 30 minutes.  I watched him make eye contact.  I watched him smile shyly each and every time someone sent him a well-deserved compliment.  I watched him ask names and questions.  I watched him listen intently to each and every stranger that slobbered a "yer-so-awesome!" on him.  There was no arrogance.

If you know of Ryan Hall, and know of his grandiose statistics, you'd expect some arrogance.  Hall's personal bests include a 3:42.70 1500m, a 13:16.03 5k, and a 28:07.93 10k. His half marathon of 59:43, and last year's Boston, a ridiculously quick 2:04:58, have made Hall the fastest half-marathoner and marathoner in U.S. History.  He has plenty to be arrogant about.

But he's not.  He's a practicing Christian from a town called Big Bear California who went on to succeed as California's state cross-country champion during both his junior and senior years.  After high school, Hall ran for Stanford.  He is married to the lovely Sara Hall who is also a practicing Christian and professional runner.  The two have founded an organization called The Hall Steps Foundation "to take small steps towards the marathon goal of ending poverty."

In short, the Halls are definitely a duo I'd welcome to my hood at any time.  Prolly even feed 'em.

Being Christian is a huge part of Ryan Hall's life.  He used to think he was a runner that's Christian but has since evolved into a "Christian that runs."  In a Runner's World article, Hall explains that he didn't always run.  "My parents were strong Christians. I definitely believed, but I wasn't really strongly pursuing my faith. I was playing baseball, basketball, football--I was into, like, the cool crowd at school. And then one day traveling down the mountain to a basketball game, I got this random--I describe it as a vision, but you could call it an idea, whatever--this thing pops into my mind where I am looking out at Big Bear Lake, and I think, well, it would be a great thing for me to try and run around that."

So Hall ran around the lake and hasn't stopped running since.  "It was at that point that Jesus really became my best friend. That's when our relationship took off...and it was a direct result of him bringing running into my life."  He also said, "I believe I have a gift from God. But then I also have to train really, really hard. So I see it as being a good steward of the gift God's given's my obligation to God to develop this talent the best I can. So, I try and make that my focus rather than wanting to beat people. Not that it's not fun to win, because it is?"

In that same Runner's World article, Ryan Hall's sweet grandma insisted that the public know something. She said, "'I want you to know that this family prays, and prays for many things. That it will be a good race, that it will be a safe race, but they never?they never?' She stops now, holding her hand to her mouth as her eyes fill with tears. It takes her a moment to gather before she can speak again."

"'They never pray to win.'"

His family might not be praying for him to win, but I certainly am.  And I'll be prayin' (and hollerin') like mad on January 14th, 2012 in that little town called Houston.  Go Ryan Go!  I also have this super cool t-shirt that says "Hall-elujah!" over a silhouette of Ryan Hall.  It's rad.

You can follow Ryan on his blog or on twitter at @ryanhall3.

With that... I'd like to leave you with some snaps and quotes from the aforementioned blog.



"The question I try and ask myself when I consider whether or not to train more is what is my body craving and what is my body ready to absorb? Sometimes pushing harder is not the answer. It takes self control, confidence, and intuition to know when to train and when to rest, but when in question error on the side of being over rested."

"I am thankful that there are different seasons in life and training. I have learned to embrace each season realizing how important it is to allow the body, mind and spirit to fully cycle through each. My current season of marathon training is my favorite. I love the simple life of training and going after a goal with everything I have."

"I feel honored to be invited back to this years race and see it as a great opportunity for me and for all of us who are running."

"When I look back at a race I look at it first through the lens of a scientist and then through the eyes of an artist. What factors contribute to my performance? What things can I tweak or try out next time out? What good things were reinforced? What felt tired? What workouts do I need to do to be better prepared? How were my thoughts out there? Did I enjoy the race? These are all questions of the scientist.

"The artist in me looks back at the race and asks how does this race fit into the larger picture being painted? What things about my performance do I not understand? Did I do a good job of fully expressing me with whatever energy I had to give on the day? What new strokes can I try out next time?  There is always in tension in running between the scientist who wants to have an explanation for everything and the artist who is ok with not understanding all the mysteries of running, knowing that perhaps the next great performance may come from thinking outside the box. I have found that both the scientist and the artist are necessary in becoming a complete runner and processing the good, the bad, and everything in between on race day."

"When I look at a week I don’t see the necessity for mileage, I see the necessity for hard, quality workouts followed by adequate recovery and even making sure to over-recovering (if there is such a thing)."

"Mileage can be a good thing if it encourages us to run more, but not at the expense of recovery. I have certainly learned throughout my career that it’s not always necessarily he that runs the most mileage that wins the race."

Friday, October 21, 2011

On Top of Big Baldy

Last Monday, I did something spontaneous.  I mean, super spontaneous.  I haven't done anything that spontaneous in around... uh... a long time.

A group of gals that I run with had arranged a hike to the top of Big Baldy.  One sent a text on Saturday with the specifics: meet at Dry Canyon, 8:15.  The Yahoos don't have school until 9:15 so I immediately tossed the idea aside.  There's no way I'd make it there at 8:15.

No Big Baldy Mounting for me.  Frownie face.

If you're a mom, then you know how ridiculous the morning throw-off situation is.  Or maybe I'm the only mom with a ridiculous throw-off situation.  Morning-time before school-time is hectic.  I also have this thing with walking the Yahoos to school.  I do it as much as possible because it's currently my favorite part of being a parent.  We walk for a little under a mile, and I just watch 'em.  I watch them run and walk, and wander, and giggle, and play-fight, and talk.  It's terrific.  Before I know it, they'll be all grown-up and won't let me walk with them any more.  I'm in no hurry for that to happen.

Anyway, on Monday morning, my little Fastinista Friend and I were running (she does that... slows down to run with me and I thank her kindly for it.)  She wanted to Mount Big Baldy too, but had a similar morning situation with her kids.  She said, "Let's just go later, after you get your kids off to school."  And I said, "Nah... it's too much work to rearrange everything."  Which is what I say a lot of these days.

As we finished our run on Monday, she was still trying to talk me into it, and I was still poo-pooing it with a blubbery "Too much work!"  Then a couple hours later, at about 8:30ish, I decided to blow off my responsibilities – which included helping Yahoo #1's teacher; don't know one turn me in 'cause I'll be there next week – and we did it!

We Mounted Big Baldy.  Smilie face.

For the record and for my posterity and whatnot, it's important that I mention this: Big Baldy is not a hike.  It's a scramble.  Like a grab-on-to-trees-and-branches-to-keep-from-falling-and-maybe-you-slip-and-fall-and-draw-blood scramble.  And if you decide to take the Bossette Camera and all her lenses, then you'll do the scramble with a bunch of extra weight, and then you'll be sore the next day.  Which is okay.  The pictures were worth it.

First, here's the Garmin (for Jessica, cause she likes my Garmins, and notice the 3500ish vertical in a little over 2 miles):





This is my Fastinista Friend.  She Fast.  And she's Inista.





Ran into one of the gals from the other group as she made her way down.  
She and I sat next to each other in first grade.  We figured this out a few months ago.
Cue "It's a Small World After All."







On Top of Big Baldy!
All Covered with Sweat!
The Trek Back Down,
Will be the Hardest Yet!

Going down.  Big back-pack 'n all.  
I don't recall if this was before or after I fell on my keaster and tore open my finger.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What a Wonderful World! - Tuesday Tune, vol 98

Today's Tuesday Tune is inspired by the state of Utah, and is brought to you by a rainy spring that turned into a bright, colorful, wonderful fall. Utah is the most (or at least one of the most) beautiful places in the world –  even on a normal year. But this year? Holy wow! It's beautiful. If you live somewhere else, I suggest you find yourself on a plane that finds its way on over here. It will be worth your time and/or money and/or efforts and/or vacation days.

On Sunday, Spouse, Yahoos and I drove the Alpine Loop. We stopped to take a few snaps, wander around for a while, and Yahoo #1 gave us some sign language lessons. He began these lessons with the colors.









On Monday, after dropping the Yahoos at school, a friend and I scrambled to the top of a little hill called Big Baldy. I'd tell you about that now, but  I'm way tired and my neck hurts. See, I was up in the mountains again today, this time on my mountain bike, partaking in the beauty, when something – like my mountain bike skills or lack thereof – went awry. I went over my handlebars and landed on my face. That's right folks, I had my very first endo today. So, if all goes well, and I'm still alive tomorrow, even after my monster crash, then I'll show you my Big Baldy photos.

I've had three outdoor outings in three days and it's been wonderful. This world (expecially the Utah World) is so very wonderful. And that's why today's Tuesday Tune is:

 What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

As usual, I couldn't stop there, so here's a bunch more without links. Do you want links? Let me know if you want links.  Perhaps I can find time to accommodate.

Top of the World - Carpenters
The World The People Together (Come On) - Dandy Warhols
Gained The World - Morcheeba Feat. Manda
Mama's In The Moon - Marc Cohn
Midnight In A Perfect World - DJ Shadow
Staring At the Sun - Alaska In Winter
Waiting On The World To Change - John Mayer
Keep On The Sunny Side - The Whites
Moonlight Serenade - Glen Miller
On Nature - Matisyahu
Here Comes the Sun - Yo-Yo Ma & James Taylor
Here On Earth - Love and Rockets
The Sun, the Moon & the Stars - Kalae All Day & SciryL Cooper
Heaven and Earth (Album) - Blitzen Trapper
Hey Pretty - Poe
She's A Beauty - The Tubes
I'm Sitting On Top of the World - Les Paul & Mary Ford
Pretty Vegas - INXS
Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) - Mika
Planet Earth - Duran Duran
The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise - Les Paul & Mary Ford
Walk Through The World - Marc Cohn
Beautiful Day - Len
Shanghai Breezes - John Denver
The World We Live In - The Killers
Moonlight Sanata - Beethoven
O Green World Gorillaz
Standing In The Sun - Howie Day
Sitting On Top Of The World - Taj Mahal
Shepherd Moons - Enya
World Waits - Jeremy Enigk
Wild Montana Skies - John Denver
You're Always The Sun - Supreme Beings of Leisure
Modern Nature - Sondre Lerche
Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver
Life Is Beautiful - Vega4
Give Me Some Sunshine - Shantanu Moitra, Sharman Joshi & Suraj Jagan
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) - Michael Jackson
This Beautiful Life - The Dear Hunter
Ladies Of The World - Flight Of The Conchords
Time Of The Season - Big Blue Missile & Scott Weiland
Sunshower - Chris Cornell
Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver
Peace To The World [Live] - B.B. King
Sunbeams And Some Beans - Kimya Dawson
Full Moon - The Black Ghosts
Seasons of the Heart - John Denver
Beauty Of Uncertainty - KT Tunstall
Beautiful Way - Beck
A Thousand Beautiful Things - Annie Lennox
Mother Nature's Son - The Beatles
A Place In The World - Mary Chapin Carpenter
In My Little Corner Of The World - Marie Osmond
Sunday Sun - Beck
Pretty Little Thing - Fink
Moon Over The Freeway - The Ditty Bops
Joy To The World - Three Dog Night
You Are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
(Reach Up For The) Sunrise - Duran Duran
Beautiful - Noel Gourdin
Blue Moonlight - Los Lobos
One Sweet World - Dave Matthews
Beautiful World - Devo
Sunshine - Simian
Beautiful Freak - Eels
Big Rock Candy Mountain - Harry McClintock
Sundrenched World (In-store Play Version) - Joshua Radin
Here Comes The Sun/The Inner Light [Transition] - The Beatles
Pretty Good Year - Tori Amos
Sunshine On My Shoulders - John Denver
Heaven's Here On Earth - Tracy Chapman
Mother Earth - Memphis Slim
Earth Song Michael Jackson
Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh
Thank God I'm a Country Boy - John Denver
Oh! You Pretty Things - David Bowie
The Sound Of Sunshine (Album Version) - Michael Franti & Spearhead
How To See The Sun Rise - Ben Sollee
The World at Large - Modest Mouse
Large World Turning - John Mellencamp
Two Suns In The Sunset - Pink Floyd
Bumpin' On Sunset - Brian Auger
Beautiful Day - U2
Un World Mysteriouse - Dimitri From Paris
Beautiful Girl I- NXS
Prettiest Tree On The Mountain - Ben Sollee
Catch The Sun - Jamie Cullum
Moonlight Drive - The Doors
Beautiful Future - Primal Scream
"Whole Wide World" - The Pristeens, Scandal, Controversy, & Romance Interscope Records
You Are My Sunshine - Norman Blake
Sunset, 1989 - Swimming With Dolphins
Theme For A Pretty Girl That Makes You Believe God Exists - Eels
You Are My Sunshine - Dave Monson
Wild Flower - The Cult
Rocky Mountain High - John Denver

Friday, October 14, 2011


Last Monday, I wandered into Yahoo #1's classroom.  This is what I saw:


What will he be when he grows up?! A lexicologist? A lexicographer? An etymologyst? A verbarian? What will he study? Delectus? Concordance? Terminology? Derivation? Orismology?

There are so many options.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve's Boogie - Tuesday Tune, vol 97

I've seen quite a few inventions in my lifetime.  The microwave.  The personal computer.  The internet.  The dishwasher.  The video disc player that turned into the Betamax then evolved into something called the VHS which was trumped by the DVD and now the Blue Ray.   There's also the cassette tape that morphed into the CD that finally morphed into the MP3.

Of all the inventions I've seen, nothing – I mean, absolutely, honestly nothing – has changed my life more than the iPod.  Not the "mp3 player" mind you, because I've had a few of those and they didn't change my life much.  The iPod, with it's companion iTunes, has changed my life dramatically.  It's by far one of the greatest material, tangible things I've ever owned.

I have a 160 gig iPod Classic that holds all of my music.  It stays in the car.  I have an 80 gig iPod Classic that I keep around for kicks – just in case; can't bring myself to get rid of it.  I also have a 2 gig iPod Shuffle that I use for exercise, and finally, I have an iPhone.  Spouse has an iPod Nano and an iPhone, Yahoo #1 has an iPod Touch, and Yahoo #2 is saving money for his very own iPod Touch.

My job requires the use of computers.  A little over a year ago, I ditched the PC and went Mac. I now work on a 27-inch iMac or a 13-inch MacBook Pro. We watch TV.  We ditched the cable and replaced it with a Mac Mini.  As a bonus the Mac Mini is great for streaming music.  And if I need speakers any where or how, I hook 'em up to an Airport Express.  

Basically, there's an Apple in every room of our house.  And all of these Apples were made possible by the one, the only, the visionary, Steve Jobs. 


To commemorate, celebrate, and decorate – today's Tuesday Tunes are for Steve Jobs.  Boogie in peace, friend.  Boogie in Peace.

Steve's Boogie – Eric Johnson
Let's Make A Better World – Dr. John
Life and Death – The Dear Hunter
The Leader of the Pack – Shangri-Las
Song For A Friend – Jason Mraz
The Power of One (Change the World) – Israel Houghton
Made For Us – Mackintosh Braun
From Which I Came/A Magic World  – Eels
You've Got A Friend In Me – Randy Newman
Takin' Care of Business – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
New World Man – Rush
Life In Technicolor – Coldplay
Three Steps to Heaven – Eddie Cochran
Genius Next Door – Regina Spektor
Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Magic Man – Heart
Ain't No Sunshine When You're Gone – Bill Withers
Apples – Delhi 2 Dublin
Some Kind Of Wonderful – Grand Funk Railroad
Computer Heat – Cansei de Ser Sexy
Revolution – The Beatles
Mr. Magic – DJ Shadow
Changes – David Bowie
Man On The Moon – R.E.M.
Song For A Friend – Jason Mraz
All Over the World – Electric Light Orchestra
Modern Man – Arcade Fire
Meet Me In Heaven – Johnny Cash
The Boss – James Brown
Hero – Jars Of Clay
Macho Man – The Village People
Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA – Devo
Happily Ever After – He Is We
Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) – Green Day

Monday, October 10, 2011

Olympic Hopeful: Paul Petersen

As was mentioned earlier, I'm heading to Houston in January to watch the Olympic Trial Marathon.   I'm excited.  I'm also excited to do a little research to know some stuff about the hopefuls that have qualified.  From now until then, I plan to do a little bit of research on a few of the athletes and post what I find here.

First on this list is Paul Petersen.  The reason I chose Paul is because he's a Utahn.  I hail from the great state of Utah, and as of today, he's the only Utahn to qualify.  Ironically, I've since learned that Paul, a self-employed GIS contractor who lives in Smithfield, is now moving to Colorado.  Bummer.  We're losing our Utahn.

Most of the information I found was taken from an interview from  Paul, 31, and a graduate of Michigan's Calvin College, had a "decent college career" which included a one-time All-American title in cross country.  Petersen's top mileage is in the high 90s to low 100s, and believes the key to running well is consistency.  He says, "People talk about mileage or doing special workouts, and we all read runners’ magazines and we all read Daniel’s Running Formula and Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning. Those are great things. That’s where you get a lot of ideas. But there’s no substitute for consistency and you can get away with having not so great workouts and not so great science behind your running, just if you get out and do it."

Paul Petersen qualified for the Olympic Trials in April by running 2:17:35.  He was the 17th male and 3rd American.  He attributes his success to nine years of training, where one year builds upon the next.  He says, "Boston, you talk about a training cycle; when we think of a training cycle we think of the six months leading up to a marathon, or four months leading up to a marathon. Really, this was eight or nine years leading up to Boston, learning how to run a marathon and learning how to train for a marathon."

Petersen also says that a little luck had a great deal to do with his success at Boston.  Temperatures were mild and there was a substantial tail wind.  He says, "The training was there and my work was there. Now it was a matter of you have to get a bit lucky. That means things like weather."

I concur.  Weather has everything to do with a marathon.  That's the trouble with marathoning; everything can be stacked up perfectly, but if you wake to foul weather, or are generally feeling "off," the day might not go well.  And the other trouble with marathoning is that you can't give it a go again the next week.  There's no bluffing, there's no room for being conservative.  Runners who are serious about marathoning must go "all in" at first hand.

As Paul says, "Not every race is going to be great. You’ll lay an egg here and there. I just had a tough race in Moab, physically I just wasn’t able to respond. It was a hard race for me. But you just have to shake it off, figure out if there’s something that you did wrong, maybe you learn from it and move on and forget it. Don’t dwell on it. Learn what you can from it. Then leave it behind you."

And as serious as he is, Paul tries to keep his life in check. "I’m constantly balancing training with family and other things, so I want to keep my life in balance and a healthy balance, make sure my priorities are right. That’s my main priority, to keep my family and my work and things like that ahead of running. Running needs to be just a hobby. Sometimes it becomes more than that, so I’m always balancing that out."

Wanna know what I'd ask Paul if'n I ever got the chance to ask him something?  "Don't you get tired of wearing the same outfit for each race?"  Sponsorship has some serious drawbacks....





You can read what Paul Petersen is up to by reading his blog or you can review his workout details by going to

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Foreskin's Lament

Foreskin's Lament
by Shalom Auslander


To circumcise or not circumcise.  That is not the question.

The question is: eight days from birth, your son shall receive the Brit Milah (circumcision) by an authorized Mohel (holy person trained in Brit Milah) else your newly born son will receive Kareth (spiritual excision/divine punishment.)

Notice it's not a question.

Therein lies the basis of Foreskin's Lament, which Spouse so endearingly refers to as "The Foreskin Monologues." (I giggle every time.)

Foreskin's Lament is a memoir from Shalom Auslander, a writer who was raised in an extremely orthodox Jewish family and community.  He attended a yeshiva (Jewish school,) he wore the kippah (yarmulke) and tallit with four tzitzits as was instructed by Jewish law.  He was forced to strictly observe the Shabbat (Sabbath), and was convinced that death or extreme mutilation would befall anyone he loved if he failed to obey kashrut (dietary laws.)  Auslander grew up with fear.  Fear that his negligent actions would result in the All Mighty Smiting of those he loved.  Fear that his mother (or brother or friend or sister or rabbi) would be killed if he drank milk within 5 hours and 50 minutes of eating meat instead of the commanded six.

Although Mr. Auslander is no longer practicing, he is still terrified of God.  He fears God's wrath in every small aspect of his life.  That fear becomes exponential when he discovers that his wife is pregnant with a boy, for he must decide what do do about the circumcision.  He was raised to believe that an infant boy's salvation was held ransom by the act of circumcision on precisely the eighth day of boy's life.  (There's some sunset rules in those eight days, and it depends on what time the child was born.   It's totally complicated.  I couldn't wrap my head around the concept and gave up understanding.)

Through the book, Auslander provides some insight to his upbringing and traditions.  He spent some time is Israel studying, then, with the blessing of his parents married an orthodox Jewish girl.  They practiced for some time but decided that their religious traditions were a matter a force.  He says, "Isn't tradition just another word for that particular religious, self-righteous, non-thinking inertia that propels so many to extremes they might not ever have engaged in had they stopped to actually consider, to weight, to examine?"

In the end Auslander and his wife decide to circumcise their son just after birth, in the hospital, by a doctor of unknown faith.  Auslander's family visits the parents only to chastise and hold the couple accountable for the damnation of their newly-born son.  The family leaves and Auslander hasn't spoken to them since.

Some Thoughts on Religion
Here's what I honestly believe about religion, and why I love America:  To Each Their Own.  You wanna eat kosher?  Great!  You wanna pray to an Elephant God named Ganesh?  Dandy!  You wanna wear a scarf to cover your hair?  Sweet!  You wanna abstain from alcohol and other stuff for religious reasons?  Go for it!  You wanna believe there is no god?  It's your choice!  You wanna believe in Jesus on your own terms?  Do it!  To Each Their Own.

I would call myself particularly involved in my religious persuasion.  I do my best to obey commandments and whatnot, and try my hardest to separate some cultural traditions from doctrine.  One of the very most important aspects of my religious involvement, however, is that I am doing it all because it is my choice.  Not my parents' choice.  Not Spouse's choice.  Mine.  Once I feel that I'm being forced into my religion, I'm out.  Luckily, my religion is based on choice.  It's part of the foundation.  I'm finding that any type of "force" in my religion is a result of expectations from family and the culture.

This book was rather eye-opening to me.  You cannot force a belief.  You just can't.  You can force actions and traditions using fear or bribes of some sort, but when it comes right down to it, you cannot force someone to believe a particular something.  The culture in which I live has some serious cultural coercion.  Families and churches and schools are inundated with a the predominant religious beliefs.  This book helped me realize that no matter my beliefs, it's my role as a parent to make sure my Yahoos have a choice in what or how they worship.  They come to church with us now, partly by force and partly because they cannot stay home without proper supervision, but there will come a time that they will choose if it's what they want.  And it's my role as a parent to love.  Not love them because they are part of my religious club.  To quote my favorite person in history, Jesus, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye alove one another; as I have loved you, that ye also blove one another" – John 13:34.

I think that Foreskin's Lament would be a good read for most people within my religious orientation.  To illustrate that we cannot force a belief.  There's some serious language in this book, however, and I'm not the type to recommend books with swears to people who don't like books with swears.

How This Book Came To Be
I have this friend Megan, who is getting a graduate degree in Creative Nonfiction.  She doesn't know this, but her attendance in this program has opened up another whole! new! world! for me (complete with spastic purple genie.)   She tells me about some Creative Nonfiction and I read this Creative Nonfiction.  Then I become tickled with glee over whats inside.  Sometimes, as is the case with Foreskin's Lament, Megan actually sends me the book in the mail.  Talk about glee.  Few things make me as happy as receiving random books in the mail.

What is Creative Nonfiction?
The Rabid dictionary says that Creative Nonfiction is factual stuff written in an entertaining manner.  That is, it's written creatively instead of text booky.  Text books aren't fun to read.  Creative Nonfiction is fun to read.  Creative Nonfiction takes a collection of factual events or ideas and pulls them all together in a creative fashion.  Memoirs are considered Creative Nonfiction, but not all Creative Nonfiction must be a memoirs.  Creative Nonfiction can also be research-related.  For example, Megan told me about her advisor, and how she is writing a book on journals and blogs and the like.  I can't wait to read that one.

Right now I'm reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.  This is another Megan recommendation in the Creative Nonfiction classification.  It's terrific. I was about to finish it today but decided to let the love continue a bit longer and wait.  That one's up next!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Help

I woke up early this morning to go running.  (Surprise!)  It's raining, however, and not just a sprinkle.  It's pouring.  Everyone knows that I don't run in the rain because I'll melt.


I'm up.  I'm ready to run.  It's raining.  Instead of moping about, wanting to run and wishing that this weekend's weather would have rolled into St. George last week, and dreaming about cool, PR-betiding temperatures, I decided to catch up on my book reports for I have a bunch, just waiting.  (Evidently I'm not running but my sentences insist on doing so.  Those sentences, they have a possession of their own, don't they?  They just do what they want and we sentence creators have no control)

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett


Here's the problem with popular literature:  The popular people are always turning books into something they're not.  Take Stefanie Meyer's Twilight Series for example.  They are great little stories for what they are.  They are teeny bopper romances, and nothing more.  Popular people insist on making the stories more than teeny bopper romances, and the unwarranted hype has turned a lot of folks off.  I've beat that already-dead vampire to a garlic-infused pulp, so I'll quit now and save you the droning diatribe.

While The Help was a great read, one I recommend, the popular people have once again turned it into something it is not.  My opinion of the book was tainted the minute I laid eyes upon the cover.  (Those of you who say you cannot judge a book by its cover are missing all sorts of opportunity to judge stuff by covers!)  Let me show you what I mean:


See that?  Let me spell it out for you.  The cover says, "This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird."  Nuh-uh.  No way.  There will be one – and only one – To Kill a Mockingbird.   Any book that resembles To Kill a Mockingbird, in even the remotest way possible, will be nothing more than a copy.  A fraud.  A fake.  A mockingbird mockery.  So, yeah, the NPR critic, and then the publisher who allowed this vulgar claim, managed to place a nice cloudy film between this cute little story and myself.

Even though my view was tainted significantly by an outlandish claim, I still think it was a great story.  I would recommend it and I'll see the movie too.  For future rabid reference, I'll provide a brief synopsis.

This is a story of a girl from Jackson, Mississippi who goes to college, comes home, and discovers how blatantly racist the situation is.  Most southern homes have "help"– that is, they pay "colored" people small bits of cash to put up with their crap.  Mostly.  Some who hire "Help" are nice and pay well.

This girl's name is Eugenia but goes by "Skeeter" – don't get me started on how this does a shoddy job of emulating Harper Lee's "Scout."  But hey, they started it, what with the claim that it's the next To Kill a Mockingbird.

Skeeter, having her eyes and ears opened to the racist ways of The South, returns home from college only to discover that her friends and family have some serious race issues.  One friend had a new toilet installed in the garage for "The Help" because blacks and whites aren't supposed to use the same toilets.  This is was got it started.  Skeeter decides to write a book about The Help from The Help's point of view.  Skeeter holds secret interviewing meetings and sneaks around so as to write the stories without getting caught.  Getting caught would lead to someone getting hurt, for fraternizing with the Help and those of "color" was a crime punishable by the public while the law looked the other way.

As an aside, I find the whole concept of not toilet-sharing assinine. They say that the black folks cannot use the white toilets because of "diseases."  However, the white folk are just fine with the black folks preparing their food, doing their laundry, and CLEANING THE WHITE TOILET.  I mean, were they really that stupid to think that they'll get diseases from using the same toilet, but will be in the clear if it's cleaned by the alleged disease-ridden Help?

Anyway, one by one, Skeeter convinces a few people to help her write her book.  Her book is published but not without a few close calls and various obstacles.

I think that The Help was cleverly constructed in the way that Kathryn Stockett told the tale from a few different viewpoints.  One chapter would be from the view of Skeeter, while others would be written in first person from a few of the featured Help (Minnie, Aibileen.)  I liked how the language was different for each, and that the language was a direct reflection of the amount of schooling each of them had.  This was my favorite part of the book.  I'm also a big fan of words that are written so as to show how they're mispronounced.  There were bunches of this.

Segregation is the predominant theme in this book.  To be honest, I have little exposure to segregation.  I grew up in Utah where there was one black person in my high school, and he was the student body president.  Actually, he was Indian, not black, but we thought he was black and way cool.  Being black in Utah was ridiculously awesome, because it was implied that you were athletic, and had rhythm.  Therefore you got lots of attention and/or scholarships.  My only experience with racism would be from my born-in-1900 granny, in the which everyone just blamed her senility.  I knew better though.  It wasn't so much her aged senility as it was the age in which she was born.  Folks born back then were just born racist-ish.  (I say "ish" cause she's my sweet granny and St. Peter has most assuredly set her straight.)

Spouse, on the other hand, has some serious experience with segregation.  Spouse attended high school in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee.  He has some stories.  Each time he tells me some of these stories, I am beside myself.  My gaper opens wide and I'm so shocked I can't even say "no way."

The Help takes place in Jackson, Mississippi.  Aside from computer-related trade shows in Atlanta and Oak Ridge, then a trip to see my sister sing in Charleston, and a jaunt to Disneyworld, I have not really visited or experienced "The South."  The Help made me think that visiting Jackson would be an interesting thing to do.  I pulled it up on a map only to glower in disappointment.  Jackson is too close to Memphis.  Spouse will not go near Memphis on purpose, for Spouse has no desire to visit any location within a few hundred miles of his high school stomping grounds.

With that I conclude the latest installment of my rabid book reporting.  It stopped raining.  Perhaps I'll go wander around in it.

Next up:  Foreskin's Lament by Shalom Aslander, and Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine

A few days ago, on the cusp of my Houston Marathon decision, I decided to consult with an exercise physiologist who specializes in distance running.  I was all like, "Dude.  Something's missing in my training.  It needs some tweaking.  My running style is not typical, for I have only one pace.  My 10k and marathon pace are the same.  I need something a little more custom.  I realize I'm not Olympic or Elite material, but I seriously want to see what I can do."

Mr. Exercise Physiologist said that for a nominal fee he could help and sent me a questionnaire.  I filled out this questionnaire – took almost two hours to complete.  Mr. Exercise Physiologist wanted some detailed information, like the last 20 week's work, cross-training, max heart rate, personal bests in various races, and how many jars of Nutella I go through in a year.

Right now, at this very minute, my custom training plan for this Houston Marathon is sitting unopened in my e-mail box.  I've got the butterflies and don't dare open it.  In the back of my mind, I'm afraid that Mr. Exercise Physiologist's secret decoding will say, "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Road to Houston

Now that the St. George Marathon is out of the way, I get to focus on what's next.  This is exciting, because what I have planned next is BIG.  Big, I say.  Big.

In exactly 101 days, on January 15th, 2012, I will run the Houston Marathon.  Why the excitement?  I hear you say.  It's just another city marathon, why is that such a big deal?  It's not that big of a deal – at least by itself.  What makes the Houston Marathon (set to take place in 101 days) so big is what will happen in Houston in 100 days.  (The day before.)

Exactly 100 days from now, the city of Houston will host the United States Olympic Trials Marathon.  For the first time ever, the Men and Women will race the same course at the same time.  Kind of.  The races will start 15 minutes apart.  They will run one small loop, then three 8-mile loops around downtown Houston.  For the first time ever, the entire U.S. Olympic Marathon Team will be crowned at the same time, and at the same place.

I Am Woman! I Will Be There!  As will the Yahoos and Spouse.  We will watch it all unfold.  And after I've watched them crown the team, I'll run my very own Olympic Trial marathon the next day.  This will be a marathon that I win no matter what.  Come PR or DNF, I will win.  It's just how I roll lately.  Happy to be alive, happy to have the ability to run.

In the mean time, I have some training strategies to cement, and some Olympic Hopeful biographies to research.  I need to study the who's-who of Olympic Qualifiers so as I can spectate with knowledge.  Guess what?  You're going to help me with both.  From now until Olympic Trial Day (a Holy Rabid Relic day if there ever was a Holy Rabid Relic day), I shall present a sporadic spewing of athletes here and there.  Each will be very interesting.  Each will have it's own rabid spin.  (To get a jump on said athlete spewing, you can see a list of who is currently qualified for the trials, by going to the official web site.)

And what about my race strategy?  The race is in 14.5 weeks. This is enough time to recover from St. George for about three, then train good 'n hard for 12.  I need to decide what I want to do.  Do I want to train hard and race the marathon?  Or do I want to show up casually and run for fun?  Either option will be ridiculously awesome.  I just don't have a lot of time for deciding and need to do so within the next week or two.  Thoughts?

I'm leaning towards racing it.  The course is relatively flat and at sea level.

Oh how I love to be flat and at sea level.



Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Graveyard Book / Danse Macabre – Tuesday Tune, vol 96

The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman


The Rabid family road-tripped this weekend.  And while most fancy-pants-parents stock their vehicles with movie-watching accommodations, we Rabid folk prefer entertainment the old fashion(ish) way.  We listen to audio books.

Finding an audio book to wet each and every one of our listening whistles is quite a challenge.  I mean, princess stories are out because I hate princess stories.  Memoirs are out, because, let's just face it, only bad stuff happens in memoirs – at least only the memoirs with bad stuff get published and recorded for audio. Science fiction is tricky these days, because of their go-nowhere spaghetti plots, and details that are so far-out they're boring.

And so it was, on a day like today, but last week, I asked the facebook crystal ball to recommend a good audio book for us.  That's what your facebook status is for... did you know that?  You ask it stuff and it tells you answers.  Sometimes it even provides solutions, like life-jackets, where you can have register your car AND have fun, halloween costumes... you name it!  Facebook is the modern-man's crystal ball.

Through the haze of said facebook crystal ball, the recommendations came fast and furious.  I received two apparitions for The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimen.  I downloaded the book and we gave it a stab.  The trip to and from St. George was enough time to finish it.  Sevenish hours, I believe.

The Graveyard Book is the tale of a small pacifier-sucking child who's family is murdered one night.  By chance, and perhaps by some mischief, the toddler had escaped the house before the murdering.  Somehow he made it to a nearby graveyard – a graveyard whereby the dead float around.  Somehow the child's dead mother had begged the dead floating people to raise their child.  Somehow the dead floating people agreed.   Somehow they were able to get him food and schooling and other stuff.  (You'll have to read the tale yourself to know about all of those Somehows.)  Because the boy looked like nobody they knew, the dead-floaters decided to name him "Nobody."  Called him "Bod" for short.

Each chapter is a self-contained graveyard adventure that gets tied together nicely at the end.  I've since learned that the chapters are based on some Rudyard Kipling, so perhaps I'll get my meat-hooks on a printed copy and do some real research.

This Graveyard Book is a children's story, but it sounds disasterously morbid, doesn't it?  It is!  And it's awesome!  I loved it.  Spouse loved it.  The Yahoos loved it.  The reading was presented by the silky-smoth superbness of Mr. Gaiman himself.  We want a sequel.

The segments of the audio version were separated by some fun spooky-like music.  The Yahoos liked the music.  It donned on my that it's That Time of Year – That Time of Year being the Spooky-Music time.  And boy, do I have the Spooky Music all lined up ready, thanks to last year.

The tune on the audio book was one called Danse Macabre by Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns.  It reminded me of all the classical spooky tunes that I have.  Here's a sampling, for your spooking pleasure, inspired by and for, the spooking time of year.  Spook it up, yo:

Danse Macabre - Camille Saint-Saens
Toccata & Fugue D Minor, BWV. 565 – Johann Sebastian Bach
Carmina Burana - O Fortuna Carl Orff
Ride Of The Valkyries – Robert Wagner
Totentanz – Liszt
Communio: Factus Est Repente – Some random old guys who call themselves "Greg"
Also Sprach Zarathustra (Opening Fanfare) – Richard Strauss
Symphony No. 7 In A, Op. 92 - II. Allegretto – Ludwig Van Beethoven
Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125, "Choral" - II. Molto Vivace – Rossini
Requiem In D Minor, K 626 - Dies Irae – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piano Sonata No. 2 In B-Flat Minor - III. Marche Funebre – Chopin
Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Augurs of Spring (Dance of the Girls):  Igor Stravinski
Offertorium: Terra Tremuit – Other old random guys who call themselves "Greg"
Praeludium (Fantasie) & Fuge in G Minor, BWV 542 – Johann Sebastian Bach
Peer Gynt - Suite No. 1, Op. 46 - Death Of Ase – Edvard Grieg
Don Giovanni - Overture – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Violin Concerto No. 3 In F Major, Op. 8/3, RV. 293 - 'The Four Seasons': 'Autumn' – Handel (This one isn't all that spooky, but it is autumn, you know, when the spooks come out.)
The Planets, Op. 32 - Uranus, The Magician  – Gustav Holst
In The Hall Of The Mountain King (From "Peer Gynt") – Edvard Grieg
Chorus Of The Witches: Che Faceste? (From "Macbeth") – Verdi
The Old Castle – Mussorgsky
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Sz.106: III. Adagio – Béla Bartók
Transylvanian Lullaby – (From "Young Frankenstein," Jenny Oaks Baker has the best recording, but it's not on youtube.)
Night On Bald Mountain – Modest Mussorgsky (Do you think Modest Mouse go their name from Mussorgsky?  Just put those two together!)
Etude In C Minor, Op. 25 No. 12 - Chopin

Monday, October 03, 2011

Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!

Marathon #20, and my 9th St. George was a great success.  I believe each and every marathon is its own version of success.  A marathon is either fast and furious, or slow and slumbering.  One marathon might leave you feeling boss, while yet another will slap you with the humility-hand – so hard that you wonder if you're mostly monkey and raised by humans.  All marathons leave a great story.  All marathons teach a lesson.  This is what makes all marathons a success.

Let's start by getting on and over with the mumbo-jumbo: Had the usual taters 'n salt for breakfast; saw Spouse and Yahoos at Snow Canyon (mile 16); also saw Tina; also saw Becca; chirped with glee over seeing all these loved ones; Becca ran a stretch with me; had a perfectly conservative 20 miles, even with the hills, even felt I had reserved plenty for final stretch; it got hot; I got thirsty; I slowed down considerably; took giant big-stick popsicle from stranger at mile 23ish, it wasn't candy, so give a girl a break; finished in 3:14:12; second fastest of my marathoning mayhem; whah-whah-whah-whaaaaah-whah-whah.

It was a great day.  My performance was decent for the summer's training and the conditions of the day, there was suffering, there was fun.  My favorite part of the day, however, had nothing to do with me, other than the fact that I was there to hear the story.

First, let me introduce you to this dynamic-dynamo, daddy-daughter duo:


This is Triabry and his daughter Danielle.  I've known them somewhere around six years.  We run in the same circles, and when I say "run" I really do mean "run." It's not figurative-ese for hanging out while doing a various assortment of activities.  We really do run in circles together.  Sometimes we shake it up and run in a 400-meter oval.

Triabry, one who swims and does many "tris" or triathlons, just ran his 23rd St. George; Danielle ran her 12th.  Each year, they travel to St. George as a family and partake in the marathoning festivities.

The morning of the race, we were waiting to get on the bus and Danielle was telling a story about rabbits.  It's not a Lenny story, or a Glenn Close story, or even a Bugs Bunny story.  It is Danielle's story, and it will forever and ever be Danielle's Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! story.  It goes something like this:

There's a legend, that on the first day of each month, and on your first speaking, hearing, etc, if you say Rabbit! Rabbit Rabbit!, you'll have a great month.  Danielle told us all about how she had a grade-school teacher who got her started on the superstition.  She also explained that after learning of this legend, Danielle has squawked a triumphant "Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!" on the first day of each and every month since.

Now there's some fine print to acquiring this Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! luck.  The words must be said by you, and by you very first.   No one can say anything, and you certainly cannot say anything else.  If you mumble a "quit snoring" at your beloved, or if a Yahoo runs in with nightmarish tales, the Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! is null and void.

(Danielle is not hitched and has no Yahoos.  I was just trying to point out that being married with kids, and doing the Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! would be quite a challenge.)

This, the 35th St. George marathon, was set to take place on October 1st.  That's the first day of the month.  And just before retiring the night before – (that night before being September 30th) – Danielle instructed the entire family that there would be no talking to her until she was able to get her Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! out.  

The family, being altogether acquiescent and amiable and affable and all the other "a" words, agreed.  The next morning, on October 1st, Danielle was able to pronounce herself rabbitable, by performing a solicitous Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! recital.

After which Danielle ran a 2:51 marathon, and placed 5th.

Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! indeed.